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I arrived here in Hungary on the 9th of August, 2014, which means I am coming up on my sixth month as a Rotary Exchange student! I have had an incredible time. The first week I was here, I attended the Rotary organized language camp in Szeged which allowed me to get to know all the other exchange students and a little bit of the Hungarian language. Then, I was off to Szentendre to live with my host mom, Gabi. Szentendre is absolutely beautiful and Gabi was a wonderful host. I got to meet her family and the enjoy the end of summer festivals in town.
At the beginning of September, I began attending school at Moricz Zsigmond Gimnázium. I quickly made some great friends and began to really sink into the Hungarian culture.
In October, I began to go to Budapest more to see my friends who where also on exchange. By now I know the city well, which is very exciting for me as I come from a small town from the rural state of Maine. One of my weekends was spent in Vienna on a Rotary trip. This was a blast, and I got to see a lot of my friends I hadn’t seen since language camp.
In November, I changed host families and went to live with the Haragos family in Budakalász. I really enjoy living with them, and Budapest much closer. A couple weeks after I moved in with them, I went on a weeklong trip to Ireland with a friend from school, who has also been giving me horseback riding lessons on Szentendre Sziget. It was an incredible way to start off December and celebrate four months of being in Hungary.
Needless to say, Christmas is very different in Hungary than it is in the United States. For one, carp soup is the traditional Christmas dish here, instead of roast turkey or beef in the US. I had a lovely time during the Christmas holidays, and I got to meet some of my extended host family, which was really nice.
So far, January has been pretty quiet. On New Years’, the exchange students all got together in Budapest and watched the fireworks from Parlament. Besides that, I have been busy planning my other trips. Next week, I’ll be in Austria with my school for a ski camp, after that, I’ll head down to Szeged for my second language camp. Then, more concerts, more traveling, and more having fun.
I would highly recommend Rotary Youth Exchange to anyone who is interested in having the time of their lives, and so far, Hungary is turning out to be a great place to do that.
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